Titian-inspired vase emerges from Norfolk mansion
A pair of exquisitely decorated Castelli maiolica campana vases and covers was one of the top lots in the Fine European Ceramics sale at Bonhams on Wednesday 23rd May. After competitive bidding, the vases sold for the exceptional price of £40,850, smashing the pre-sale estimate of £20,000 - 30,000.
Originally owned by the legendary 18th century art collector, Sir Andrew Fountaine, the vases were sold in the famous Fountaine Collection sale in 1884, which included stunning works of maiolica from Narford Hall in Norfolk.
Sebastian Kuhn, Director of the Ceramics department at Bonhams said:
"These vases are fabulous examples of highly coloured maiolica ceramics from the Fountaine Collection, much of which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has been very exciting to see so much interest in the vases, which were originally part of a prominent Norfolk collection, with a fascinating history."
Sir Andrew Fountaine was a distinguished bachelor who, after sampling the delights of Italy, dedicated his life to re-designing the family seat of Narford Hall and furnishing the property with an extraordinary collection of artworks and ceramics. The author Richard Beatniffe said in 1773 that "nothing is more striking than the cabinet of earthenware" and it seems that there are few private collections in the country that would rival that of Sir Andrew Fountaine's 18th century collection.
The vases are particularly fine examples of maiolica, a form of highly decorated and coloured ceramic, with scenes based upon engravings by Domenico dalla Greche and Nicolas Cochin. They feature striking religious stories with one of the works, 'Destruction of Pharaoh's Host in the Red Sea', created after a design by the great master Titian.
The top lot of the sale on Wednesday was a Nymphenburg white figure of Julia from the Commedia dell'Arte, which sold for £56,450, outstripping the pre-sale estimate of £10,000 - 15,000. Other sale highlights included several examples of fine Meissen porcelain.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com